2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 7
2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 7
Alfa Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia: The stylish alternative

Riley Riley

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 10

What is it?

You can buy a BMW 3 Series or you could have a look at one of these babies.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is cheaper, has killer good looks and arguably goes just as well.

Hell, even the build quality has come on in leaps and bounds since the good old days of Italian cars.

Sadly, however, the days of sports sedans like the Giulia are numbered, pushed out by SUVs and the inevitable rise of electric vehicles.

With this in mind, it’s almost certainly better drinking now than gathering dust waiting for just the right occasion.

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 12

What’s it cost?

Launched in February, 2017, Giulia was updated towards the end of last year.

It’s a gorgeous looking thing, with its deep V-shaped signature grille, but manages to avoid being ostentatious.

With three models and various option packs, prices start from $63,950 for the Giulia Sport — the subject of our review.

Next up is the better equipped and more powerful Veloce from $71,450, while the top of the range twin turbo V6 Quadrifoglio is a breathtaking $138,950 — all prices before on-road costs.

Standard kit for Sport includes 19-inch alloys, red brake calipers, leather, dual-zone climate air, heated seats and steering wheel, power adjust seat bolsters, and aluminium pedals and dash insert.

There’s also bi-xenon headlights, keyless go, auto stop-start, satellite navigation, rain sensing wipers, rear parking sensors and a reverse parking camera with dynamic guidelines — plus wireless phone charging.

Safety extends to Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Autonomous Emergency Brake (AEB) and pedestrian recognition, Integrated Brake System (IBS), and Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Active Blind Spot Assist and Driver Attention Assist.

There’s also Active Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition with Intelligent Speed Control, and Automatic High Beam Assist.

The Traffic Sign Recognition system is a state-of-the-art, with intelligent speed advisor that alerts drivers to changes in the legal speed limit.

When Active Cruise Control is activated, the speed is automatically adjusted via touching steering wheel controls.

Driver Attention Assist monitors the movements of the vehicle via the Multi-Touch Display program and encourages drivers to rest when drowsy.

Options include metallic paint at $1355 (somewhat exey), Dual-pane sunroof at $2255 (don’t like sunroofs) and the Lusso Pack at $2955.

The good news is that basic Alfa red costs nothing.

Lusso as fitted to our car brings ambient lighting, active suspension and Harman Kardon premium audio, which all sounds like a pretty good deal.

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1

What’s it go like?

If you like the way it looks, you’re going to love the interior too.

The updated cabin features an inset, rather than free-standing 8.8-inch touchscreen with interactive widgets, full-screen maps, performance management features, a new touchscreen interface, along with a redesigned, intuitive central console.

The styling is classic Alfa, timeless with analogue dials, a driver focused dash and heavily bolstered sports seats and a start button that is located not so conventionally on the steering wheel.

The other button worth taking note of is the one labelled DNA, the access point for sport mode, with another less conspicuous central button that can be used to soften the ride in sport mode.

DNA stands for Dynamic, Natural and Advanced efficiency, in other words Sport, Normal and Eco, with Dynamic mode delivering sharper brake and steering feel with more aggressive engine, transmission and throttle tip-in calibrations.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder engine develops 147kW of power and 330Nm of torque, the latter between 1750 and 4000 rpm.

It’s hooked up to an 8-speed auto, with paddles shifts that are anchored to the steering column and drive to the rear wheels where dear friends it belongs.

The dash from 0-100km/h takes 6.6 seconds and, with auto engine stop-start, it uses a claimed 6.0 litres of fuel per 100km.

Giulia sits reasonably low and the heavily bolsters seats make entry and exit more difficult than usual.

In the back, rear seat legroom is not what we’d call generous — but the boot is a useful size.

Pairing up the phone for the first time was a journey of discovery, but we got there in the end with a some trial and error.

Mrs Riley must be smarter than me, because she didn’t have any trouble.

So. Foot on brake, push the start button, slip the transmission into Drive and you’re ready to roll.

The Sport has plenty of get up and go compared to the 175kW Lexus that we drove recently and thankfully Alfa has not gone down the route of artificially enhancing the engine sound.

It’s there, but fairly subdued until you put your foot down.

Also, breaking with the norm, this model is not fitted with dual tail pipes.

It wasn’t so long ago that cars which could hit the 100km/h mark in the 6.0 second bracket were considered high performance.

Time may have moved on, but it still feels quick to me and the car really lights up when switched to Dynamic mode, with plenty of torque in the mid-range that makes it easy to drive around town.

But it’s the open road that beckons this thoroughbred.

The car hugs the road with a secure feeling, with steering that is quick, light and direct.

The brakes initially felt aggressive after the lightweight SUV that we drove beforehand, but they do the job and just take a bit of getting used to.

Our test vehicle was fitted with 225/40 series Pirellis and the ride was much better than we remember, particularly with optional active suspension.

You can tell Giulia is a driver’s car from the way it responds and the way the chassis gives the driver plenty of feedback.

Switching to Dynamic mode makes a huge difference. Everything feels quicker and sharper, and the setting seems to stick between engine starts — at least temporarily.

Heading into our first corner with some speed on board, the car turns in eagerly, almost as though it knows the way without being told.

Gear changes are smooth and timely and the only real need for using the paddle shifts is to provide engine braking at the appropriate moment — or to quickly pull a gear.

Of course there’s always the 206kW Veloce to consider or — get this — the 375kW Quadrifoglio, but the Sport model in our opinion represents what Alfa does best — fun, lively, four cylinder performance.

By the way, we were getting 8.8L/100km after almost 500km, not quite the 6.0 promised but not bad for a sports sedan.

Giulia gets our vote.

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 4

What we like?

  • Style
  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Price
  • That DNA button

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 5

What we don’t like?

  • Bit low for oldies
  • Seat a bit clingy on exit
  • Cramped rear seat
  • Small rear view camera

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2

The bottom line?

You could pay a lot more for even more performance.

Or you could simply enjoy the style and performance offered by the entry Sport model which is no slouch.

Alternatively, you could fork out for an SUV and of course Alfa makes quite a nice one too — but why put yourself through that?

2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia 3

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Alfa Romeo Giulia Sport, priced from $63,950
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10